I Call this Workout Marshfit

Every once in a while I catch a break and it looks like this weekend fits those parameters.  As I sit here typing it is raining, as it did the day before that and the day before that and many of the days even ahead of that.  Apparently the weather gods didn’t notice our annual outdoor Halloween event had been moved a week out.  I can’t imagine what a nightmare it would have been trying to put up and take down all the decorations on the muddy trails – not even sure the ATV could have made it through the pooling water and saturated ground. The wet stuff has made it somewhat inconvenient getting the outdoor pre-work done (mowing, trimming and building the bridge), but the indoor stuff is coming along ahead of schedule… well, except for my self-imposed monthly post quota.  One more post to go after this one as the calendar page is beginning to curl up.  In honor of the marshy like feel to the trails at the moment, thought it would be appropriate to feature this distinctive Wren.

Marsh Wren found an Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Gulf Coast December 2017

Hit the jump to read and see a bit more about this member of the Wren family!

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The Ones Without Galoshes

Some days turn out to be one of those where you wonder when it is all done if there is an ounce of energy left in your body.  Today was one of those days for me.  Normally, we would be putting on our annual Halloween Haunted Trail event tonight, however, with all that Linda has been through and for better alignment with my partner in haunt’s schedule we pushed it to next week – all I can say is thank god for that as yesterday we had a major storm rolled through that completely flooded out part of our trail system through the woods (60 mph winds, hail and buckets of rain).  Can’t imagine how sucky it would have been trying to get everything set up not to mention having to make our guests trudge through the mud.  Instead, today was dedicated to getting all the props built over the course of the year out of the basement (Linda put her foot down) and depending on how the weather went, start work on a new 24’x8′ bridge over an ever growing stream.  Thanks to friends helping out we were able to meet Linda’s demand in the morning and then we decided to wade through pooled water on the trail and get some work done on the bridge.  6 hours later we had the entire outer rails built (doubled up 2x10s to 24 feet as well as the inner cross supports on 2′ centers.  I bet my friends do not offer to help me out next year ha!  This is one of the rare times where I can count the number of muscles in the human body as every single one is screaming at me.  While I am letting the Aleve kick in decided to blast a post out – not to mention the chair looked really comfy.

Great Egret found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center January 2017

Last post I featured the Great Blue Heron – the big kahuna in the Egret family was feeling jealous – thus the green hue on the lores.  Nothing is worse than dealing with a bunch of slighted, whiny Egrets, “did you post yet, did you post yet, are you going to make a post on us, why are you such an Egret hater, did you post yet, I thought you were going to post, Egret discriminator, when is that post coming…”. It just keeps repeating until you give in and …well, feature them in a post.

Great Egret found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center January 2017

hit the jump to see a few more shots of this beautiful bird.

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Great Blue Take Two

The Halloween prop shop is in full production as we get closer to the haunt event.  This year’s effort should be epic if I get everything done in time – every year there are always a few ideas that don’t make it onto the trail just purely due to only being given a mere 60 seconds in every minute (damn thee Father Time, damn thee!).  The good news is I had a giant breakthrough in a design of a motor housing tonight which I’ve been struggling with for couple of days.  The best part about all the Halloween activities is I get to dust the rust off my 3D solid modeling and electronics education.  Now just sitting here waiting for the 3D printer to finish with my new parts – since I don’t like to just sit figured why not claw a bit of ground back on the post quota..

Great Blue Heron found at Galveston

Decided it was time to feature the second part of my series on the big birds.  If you recall,  I covered the first set back in June – where the hell has the summer gone!?! (link here).  That set of Great Blue Herons was brought to you from the great birding mecca of South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center.  This second series comes from a couple of different places although still down on the Texas Gulf Coast from our trip down there in late December 2016 into early January 17.  These first two specimens were found at Galveston Island.  They were so intent on Froggies stupid enough to wander too close to natures living spear that they didn’t pay me any attention.  Ended up being able to move in to the point where The Beast couldn’t retract enough to get those long bodies in the frame.  No worries, always happy when I can put some nice close ups in the tin.

Great Blue Heron found at Galveston

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Great Blue.

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Bomb Chachalaca

Howdy all!  Let it be known that rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.  Seems like a tired record these days, but the hustle and bustle is reaching peak levels.  The Halloween party is mere weeks away which brings with it outright panic.  This year it is twice the levels thanks to having to do the inside decorations and possibly the cooking along with the massive outdoor trail setup due to Linda still playing the recovery card (yes, I’ve been asking every one of her doctors just how many of those cards are left in the deck – good thing she can’t throw anything in her current state).  Waaaay behind on posts for the month, not to mention falling behind on reading the output of the others I follow.

Going with a quick one today so I can get back to prop building.  Today’s featured feathered friend is making its second appearance on the blog.

Plain Chachalaca found at Bentsen-Rio Grand Valley State Park in January 2018

You may recall this rather interesting looking bird is called a Plain Chachalaca – cha-cha-la ca.  Our previous sighting was at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge back on our December 2016 trip down the Texas Gulf Coast (link here).  This happens to be one of those birds you don’t tend to forget after your first encounter and quick to recall as soon as your ears catch tone of their presence.  Their song signature is what led to the name.  Cornell declares it sounds like a “raucous” and very repetitive “chac, a lak”.  I on the other hand I feel it sounds more like two Bullfrogs being rubbed together in hopes of being able to start a fire.  Even their call is annoying as hell – would describe it as what it sounds like when you quickly squeeze the air out of Possum lungs.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this Central American chicken.

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Another Lamb Chop Murder

Howdy everyone! It feels like it has been ages since I have had the chance to take a quick break and spend time putting up a post. Just in case you were wondering, Linda is progressing very rapidly. The first week or so was a bit rough adjusting to the recovery protocol – Linda doesn’t take well to just relaxing requiring me to continually remind her she just went through major surgery and needs to give her body time to mend. She started cardio rehab this week which I think is helping her a lot, if nothing else freeing her from the confines of the house. If that wasn’t enough, the calendar turned over resulting in a “holy crap it’s time for the annual Halloween Trail event” panic. It seems like it is so far away and worry free until wham, you have only weeks to go with sooooo many props still to build. When the opportunity to post between all the training (two halfs in next 7 days), taking care of Linda and now Halloween prep.. you take it. Going to be long on pictures today and short on text – luckily today’s featured feathered friend is quite spectacular.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park in December 2017

Nor is this bird camera shy.  When you got it, you might as well flaunt it.  This beautifully colored bird is called the Great Kiskadee and is right up there in my top 10 attractive birds that I have been able to get in the tin.  The Painted Bunting (link here) still holds the top spot, but the Kiskadee is not far behind.  It may not have the diversity of palette the Painted does, but the whites, blacks, yellows and chestnut are perfectly coordinated and a testament to the skills of Mother Nature’s interior decorator.   There are also some secret colorings I didn’t even notice until several encounters later.  They are a bit selective when they show that.. but more on that later.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park in December 2017

Hit the jump to view a lot more pictures of our Bentsen-Rio find.

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When Lesser is More

Greetings everyone.  Seems like it has been months since I’ve been able to find time to pound out a post.  It has really been only about a week and half but my days have become longer than usual now that Linda is officially home and in recovery mode.  Although she is frustrated by the limited amount stuff she is able to do (both physically and under strict limiting from doctor’s orders), she is apparently able to do a lot more than expected based on comments from the follow up appointments.  Her cardiac rehab specialist couldn’t believe she was so soon out of surgery and able to walk into her office.  No surprises here, that’s my wife, driven to get back in the dog agility ring. Of course, this has forced me to learn new skills like something called “laundry” which translates to shove as many clothes as you can in the hole of the large metal box, pour the sticky stuff from the big white jug into a slide at the top and hit the brightly colored button.  Then there’s grocery shopping which as far as I can tell is to simply walk up and down every aisle and grab 5 of everything that looks yummy and then get sent back with an explicit list of things to get (while picking up even more yummy stuff).  Not sure about this cooking concept either – there are all these appliances and utensils scattered about the kitchen which probably all have some purpose, but not sure what, as the contents of the containers I bring from the various places on the way home all seem ready to eat just as they are.  Oh wait, I have kind of fallen in love with the metal box under the counter they refer to as the dishwasher!

Enough about my domestication as I know you are really here for the birds!

Lesser Scaup found at Galveston Island State Park, Texas Gulf Coast, December 2017

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this frustrating duck!

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Rough to the Touch

Another post from the great north with some good news to share.  Linda has now made it through her four surgeries and has been officially discharged from the hospital.  “Hip Hip Hooray!”  I’ve been through a number of “situations” over the years (unfortunately, many of them self-induced).  Some of those bumps in the road took just about every ounce of fortitude I had to get through.  Even with all that, I have to bow to the resolve Linda has shown over the last 4 weeks – three of which has been spent up here in Viking territory.   Weeks of being poked, prodded, sliced, sawed, cracked, studied, sampled, wired, tested, extracted, stitched, scanned, radiated, incubated, anesthetized, sponged, pressurized, cauterized, medicated, IV’d and worst of all bombarded by some of the worst TV shows imaginable (think marathons of Yes to the Dress, Millionaire Listings and in the I’d rather beat my head with a hammer than watch category, Below Deck private yacht cruises).  I can’t even find the words to convey how proud I am of her up with all that and staying positive even though she has many more months of recovery ahead of her.

On a personal front, just glad I do not have to write up the latest +1 to my birding list from a truly uncomfortable folding hospital chair!

Northern Rough-Winged Swallow at Starved Rock State Park, Illinois May 2015

Many of the plus ones as of late (well, to be honest, most of the posts this year) have come from birding trips to fiscally more responsible states than Illinois.  In a change of pace, today’s featured feathered friend comes courtesy of a trip up to Starved Rock State Park which is a relatively short drive away.  Ron and I had the opportunity to do some birding together back in May 2015.  Not exactly the best weather as we were drenched by morning showers and it didn’t really lighten up much the rest of the day.  Any shots deep under the tree canopy required dizzying levels of ISO and significant time in the digital darkroom.   We still managed to have a lot of fun as is always the case when out with Ron in the field – even managed to get a few new feathered specimens in the tin.  The Northern Rough-Winged Swallow you see before you is one of those new additions.

Northern Rough-Winged Swallow at Starved Rock State Park, Illinois May 2015

Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about our uniquely textured Swallow.

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The Non-White Pelican

Coming to you once again from the land to the North.  Things seem to be progressing overall up here at Mayo, however, there are those points where frustration starts to step in.  Linda has now made her way through three different surgeries in under a week and now preparing for the fourth and hopefully final one.  Her valve replacement appears successful, but the heart rhythm hasn’t returned to a proper level requiring a permanent pacemaker to be put in.  At this point, we are just waiting around to find out when that is going to happen.   Comforting to know she is being cared for by some of the best there is.

Thought I would get started with a new post until news came through on the schedule.

Brown Pelican found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Texas, December 2016

If you recall from the previous post, I had dragged out the soapbox and was venting some displeasure on some of the bird names out there.  Specifically bird names based on features that are difficult to tell with one in your hands much less trying to discern the characteristic out in the field.  My blogger friend CJ noted the Latin naming takes some of that out of the equation, but Aythya collaris just doesn’t roll off the tongue like Ring-Necked Duck and it gives my Latin education brother Ron a definite advantage (not to mention it is impossible to see the “collaris”… sorry).  While looking through the post queue, noticed this series.

Hit the jump to see some of my favorite pics of this coastal bird.

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Ring Me Up the ABA

A sad day here at Intrigued.  We had to say goodbye to one of our beloved toy Poodles.  Osiris (Rizzi) lived a good long life, became a well decorated Agility Champion on Linda’s guidance and brought us tremendous joy over the years.  Linda, his brothers and I truly miss him.

The stressometer is peaking again which means it is a good time to relax and get the mind focused on something else for a bit – translated,  it is an absolutely great time to get another post out.  Today’s featured feathered friend has what I’ve always considered an improper name.

Ring-Necked Duck found an Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Texas Gulf Coast January 2017

Hit the jump to read about more about this badly named Duck.

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Palm Warbler

Greetings from the northern state of Minnesota.  Should not be a surprise by now, but we are up at Mayo getting Linda’s heart a slight rebuild to take care of a birth defect.  I am going to spare you the details, but the good news is the new valve is officially in and functioning.  There have been some unexpected events and side effects that the doctors are currently working to resolve.  Hoping Linda will be back on her feet soon and checking the Iron Man off her bucket list… okay, that last part might not be true, she leaves the running to me.  Her attitude is good and I know the thought of being able to run her dogs in agility again is keeping her drive up.  To help pass the time and give a bit of relief on the stressometer,  thought I’d go ahead and see if I could get a post out.  Let me introduce you to my little friend.

Non-breeding Palm Warbler found at Galveston Island, Texas January 2017

Pretty stoic looking if you ask me.  This somewhat overall dullish looking bird with the yellow butt happens to be a Warbler.   Now Warblers are known for being pretty flamboyant especially in the Spring or breeding plumage. It just happens this particular Warbler is one of the more ornate ones out there.  Imagine that yellow coloring on the under feather washing through the belly and shooting highlights to the back of the head where the white highlights are shown on this specimen.  Now add to that a bright rusty colored cap and you have yourself one “purdy” bird.  The truth is I have shots of this bird in its breeding plumage thanks to a trip to Montrose with my brother Ron.  We are still trying to get those pictures properly ID’d  so I can start posting those … and racking up the +1’s.  Hey Ron, let’s get that done, my peeps are waiting!

Non-breeding Palm Warbler found at Galveston Island, Texas January 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this colorful Warbler disguised for the off-season.

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